Monday, March 7, 2011

Falling Deep

Warning: This story contains violent imagery and graphic discussions of sexuality. It is darker than anything I've published previously. Please consider this before reading. Thank you.

Falling Deep

In the moonlit night, Elyse stared at the drooling beast towering above her. "You're not real," she whimpered. "You're not real, and this is a dream. You can't really hurt me. I... I can't be scared."

The snarling beast slowly melted back into the featureless, stitched mannequin. The human-sized doll ripped apart at where its mouth should be and it began talking.

"You're right. This is only a dream. But... it sure seems real, doesn't it?" its form grew greasy black hair and its stomach began to bulge. It grew a surly, mocking voice as it warped itself. "It sure seems like you're facing that man. That man who brought the darkness so many nights ago. I smell like him. I sound like him. That arrogant, wicked tone that tells you just how confident I am that I'm going to win what happens next. That hot, gross breath pouring out of my mouth... sure seems like its all there, now don't it?"

The thing had taken full form now. It had hollow black eyes and resembled a twisted version of the person that had harmed Elyse over a decade ago. His arms were more musclebound before, his skin worse, scabbed and even ripped in some places. His mouth was a full sneer.

"Why don't we do it all over again, little lady? Why don't we live that one perfect night all o'er again, and you can jut out your chin and tell me how it's not real while I work my magic."

Her pulse had risen to new levels as she began to panic. She couldn't go back there. She couldn't handle it. She stepped backwards twice before turning around and running down the first hallway she say.

"You keep running, little lady! You keep running and tucker yerself out!"

The face of the man briefly returned to that of the formless, cloth doll. Its mouth parted.

"We have seven more hours, Elyse Halloway. We will end in our success."

Find Gerald, she thought. He's in here somewhere; the dreams are linked. He has to be in one of these rooms. She knocked on each door she came across. Every window, every panel, every cupboard. Some were made of wood, others cold steel. No matter which one she pounded against, however, there was no sound. She turned around and saw the silhouette of the creature lumbering towards her. It attempted an impression of a human laugh, but it failed, leaving a broken, gargling giggle to echo through the hallway.

A thought occurred to Elyse. If this was her dream world, then it had to operate by her imagination to her extent. It had to be layered with how she imagined things...

The moment she realized this, she remembered the long talks she would have with her mother at the coffee shop on Wednesday mornings. Her mother would start out pleasant and then eventually drone on about her success in subtle backhands to Elyse. Soon enough, the conversation wold become a monologue about how Elyse had wasted her life, even though she was only 19. Her mom would tell her the changes she would need to make, and Elyse would just stare down at her coffee cup, wishing she could just...

... that was it. Elyse grabbed one of the tiniest cupboard doors and pulled it open. From the two square feet in the cabinet, dozens of coffee glasses came tumbling out, almost all of them breaking instantly.

The creature was near now, talking and muttering its fond memories of a night it never had. It had clearly fully connected to her fears and dark memories and was reveling in their fullness. It was less than twenty feet away.

Elyse took the only undamaged cup and sat it down between her and the creature. She stood there for a moment, wishing how she could get away from her mother. How she could get away from this painful past. How she could tell someone about it and that would make everything go away. And if she couldn't do that, maybe she could just... disappear.

She took one step over the cup, her foot hovering above its open brim. Her eyes met the grotesque and smug man now fifteen feet away from her. She took a breath and let her body go limp.

The next moment, she opened her eyes and she was falling. Falling through a darkness. High above her, she could see the vast brim of the coffee cup, its size now larger than her bedroom. Above it, the massive face of the disgusting man peered over as if an ominous moon.

"Oh, we'll find ya little lady. We'll reconnect with how you think, and we'll be there for a right proper reunion. Just you wait."

As she fell, she began to breath normally once more. Her pulse slowed down slightly, and she tried to gather her thoughts.

Find Gerald. She had to find Gerald.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Quiet Room

The following is my first foray in horror fiction. All feedback and discussion is encouraged, no matter how harsh or cruel. If this proves to be popular, I'll write a commentary on both what created this story, and how it came to be. Thank you for reading.

In the mornings of fog, I wake up with a churning stomach. I know that the beast is out there, inches beyond the opaque, watching and waiting. That thing will pick another victim on these days and drag them past where anyone can see. I saw it once, in my horrible nightmares. The blank and open eyes of those it destroyed and how their sanity was the slaking of its wretched thirst.

Ever since that vision entered my mind, I’ve sworn that it will not devour the mind or spirit of any other. That I would do whatever it takes to protect them. The chains of this task weigh on me more with every day. The isolation of myself alone knowing that terrible is out there on these days. That it will wrap its teeth around the bone of another.

And today is that day. When I looked out the window of my home today, I could scarcely see out through the dense morning grey, and dread chilled me.

The day hung over me as a pendulum. I’ve come to know that if people see me act unlike myself these days, they ask questions they’d never want answered. They sense it, though. Each day like this day before it, the town is cautious and careful. Watching. Somehow, in the back of their minds, they are aware. Maybe they know the horrible things it does when no one looks and no one can see.

But for the sake of them and their own sanity, I move along as I always do and bear the daily ordeals. As the end of the day comes, however, and people continue along their own paths, I begin to walk mine.

I've learned that I must think like it if I am going to deny it what it wants most; those screams and red flowed floors.It always strikes someone that is alone. I've learned this. It growls and lingers in the quiet parts of the town. The parts where people look the other way and pay attention only to their own. Once it attacked in the crime ridden poor houses, where people lose count of humanity. Another in the decadent houses that mind their own affairs.

In my room and over my bed is a map of the city. The blood markers of each lost soul’s location have begun to form a pattern. A pattern winding and incoherent nearly, but not entirely. Tonight, I know exactly where the beast goes, I head there, and I hide myself in the fog and shadow, on the lookout for whoever its next victim may be.

In the quiet, I wait and hope that the beast doesn’t find me first. That it doesn’t seek me out. I’ve looked into its rotted and decayed eyes when it peered into my literal sanity. After that moment, it never came for me. At times, I suspect this is a game. At times, I’ve enjoyed my victories.

There she is. If I’m right, this is the exact location, and she’s walking the path he planned. My pulse quickens. I take deep breaths. My eyes scan the area for any sign of the creature, but, as it intended, the fog is thick and deep. Few people could see more than an arm past. Still perched in my hiding place, I loosen my tie and prepare for what I need to do.

She will be safe, but I deeply regret the terror that she will experience first. I need to get her out of here quickly and before I can explain any details. More than once, the beast has struck there and immediately when I attempted to speak with and help someone. For their own souls and sanity, I could never talk to them. I could only act.

I could only imagine what she thought when she heard the rustle of papers from the debris behind her and around that trash amongst which I hid. The breathing heavily out of my own fear. The sliding foot steps as I gained my footing and rose toward her without grace or pretense. The scrapping metal as I grabbed the discarded pipe and moved ever closer. My weary, undone visage as she turned and saw me in full swing yet obscured by the dim lights and cloud. The red, white blinding pain as I struck her in the side of her head an act of salvation. The aching confusion as she blacked out.

She will never understand that I am her salvation and have, yes, saved her this day. As I drag her unconscious state towards my car, I know that I can never expect her to understand. I don’t need that. It isn’t why I do this. I do this for her and the others.

I bring her into my room. The quiet room. The basement of my house where I save those that the beast desires. I'm careful to carry her body down the stairs without harming her further, but some of her blood has stained my dress shirt. I flip the light switch, and I see the grim sanctuary for those that I have saved.

Flickering before solid, the lights reveal the others that I have saved. Their bodies hang on rusted meat hooks around the sides of the rooms. They hang in the crimson splashed clothes in which they were protected from the beast. I look at the ripped and open gaps above their necks and am ashamed that I could no longer continue to stare into the faces of those that I saved. That I had to hide them from myself as I continued my work.

In this room, I can reflect on what I've done and what more work I have to do. The only sound I hear is my own breath against the facebook that helps me to withstand the smell. I step forward, my feet breaking the silence rhythmically and gently. In the middle of the room is the once-white table where I conclude my work.

I set her body on it and position her comfortably. Her hands are folded onto her chest and her legs straightened out. She is in a comfortable state. Her mind is at peace. I will perserve it this way.

Unknown even to myself, the discarded pipe was still in my pocket. I raise it over her face parallel to her eyes for a moment. I consider it. This is, not, however, what it is my job to do. I let the pipe clang and echo to the ground as I reach over her body to the tool on the other side. Now, I am ready. I hold the sharpened thing in my hand. Then, I lower it to her and end this.

It's a half hour later, and she hangs on the left side of the room. I wipe the sweat from my forehead as I sit on the dripping table. Today, she is saved. Her soul and her mind were sent far away beyond this fragile life and into the next. In the beyond, the beast cannot reach her or find her. She is safe now. She is at peace.

The room is truly silent again. Those saved express a quiet gratefulness.I bask in this, unmoving, for I lost how long.

As I go back upstairs and remove my tie and shirt, I look out the window of my bedroom. The moon shines. Fog approaches. A new day begins to tell its story. I step away from the window. Fingers still bloody, I mark the map where the beast would have been today, had he succeeded. And I sleep.